Monday, April 24, 2023

Monday's Super Spectacular Blog Vol 4 - Maloney, Twitter Dust Ups, Seconditis, $111k Scores, A Potential Consistent Judging Sighting, Joyce & ITP Visit Frank Stronach, Probabilities & the Best Wager in the Nation

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Super Spectacular Blog. I truly appreciate those of you who read this each week. Even when I weed out the Russian bots, a bunch of you visit. 

With that, if the Eclipse Awards ™ come calling I want everyone to know that getting presented a prestigious award from a famous person like Peter Lurie or Mattress Mack or Buck Swope from twitter next January would be great but it won't change me. Jason Beem started calling chuckwagon races at backwoods South American racetracks as a small boy and has now reached fame and fortune. Jason's always taught us advice that I heed - stay humble and don't change. Well, until he started employing assistants and wearing silk robes around the house and stuff. 

Anyway enough of that, onto this week's blog!

If you ask who's my most favorite person in harness racing, I'd probably answer Moira Fanning of the Hambletonian Society. Moira is truly the bomb. When pivoting to the runners, my answer is usually Mike Maloney. I was stoked that he was Chris's guest on the Bet With the Best pod this week. 

A few things I found interesting or helpful:

  • The CRW's changed his play from skinnier supers, tossing out the no hopers, because this edge eroded over time. I've found this to be true. In my opinion, if you like a horse the CRW's are off and he or she hits even the three or four slot, supers can still pay. 
  • When looking at a race the first question is "where's my edge". And this part was most important for me -- most races it's not there. We have to (especially at the big signal tracks) pass races more often than we have before. The pools are very efficient for even people like Mike and there's no use fighting it. 
  • Mike's handle is 15% of what it was ten or fifteen years ago. The raising of takeout and signal fees has decreased his play dramatically. Around 2007 racing made $800,000 from Mike, in 2017 when he calculated it, that number fell to $320,000 a year. "Handle is going in the tiolet because of high takeout", says Mike. In this case revenue has, too. 
  • If you're ahead of the curve on bias you can almost always find some value in a race, but it can be frustating because as the race unfolds, the horse you are betting to take advantage of the bias can be running against it (ruining your bets). 
  • Use "guardrails" where you know yourself and your play, where it keeps you from going off the road. Low variance bets help Mike stay on the road when he likes a horse because it takes the worry out of missing the exotics and losing money on the race. 
  • Betting a speed who crushes and using closers underneath can still pay dividends, but the betting teams have caught up with this the last 365. 
  • I bet the percentage of people who knew about Mike's tote security examples is small. "$12 was the largest the tote would allow" was a real gem about the Fix Six story.
  • Something I do not do enough. If you go key-key in a pick 4 or five, don't forget the double (if they're rolling). If your key-key hits and you miss the pick 5 it's tough mentally. 
  • "It's easy not to maximize your opinions" - top notch advice for me. I am often flat-out terrible by underbetting a strong opinion sometimes. 
  • The real time wagering example was really good when you watched the race. 
I could be here another hour highlighting this pod, but the Monday blog already has enough tongue for ten rows of teeth, so I'll just say it's well-worth a listen. 

Is Chuck right? We'll never know for sure in this sport because good luck getting some sort of announcement, but maybe?
People ain't wagering at the sports betting parlor as Massachusetts' first month of sports betting volume was only 3% retail. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Big Keeneland Pick 6 carry on Friday had 43% of the wagers processed in the last flash, about $2M in bets. Basement betting is everywhere.

In the politics of American sports fans study, horse racing skewed  ..... you can click to see the graphic, which is pretty neat. I like PGA Golf and Women's Tennis, which apparently makes me weird, or a John Anderson voter. Holy s*** I just dated myself. 

I love, love, love it when regular people on the feed make a score, especially when they have names like @JohnnybetsKY, his feed is all about a guy betting racing in Kentucky, and it pays $111,000 at his home track. Way to go Johnny, that was a crazy sequence and a tough get. 

In the amateur driver race at the Meadowlands Friday, the three, driven by Nicole Dicostanzo, battled the grizzled vet on the four Bruno Chiodo. Their weights are highlighted. No, this isn't thoroughbred racing. 

Curious about what your horse might pay at post? Marshall shows how to do it with double prices here

I thought soon to be President of HISA (update, he's in the kissing babies phase) Charles Simon had a great line on his pod with Barry this week. Paraphrasing, he said he's never seen an industry where more people believe what they want to believe, that fits what they've always believed, no matter how wrong it is, than horse racing. Lasix, takeout, cheating? He probably makes a good point. 

For this week's edition of Tilt, I remember when I was betting one of my win experiments years ago. I had a 35 race streak that went something like 35-0-27-4 in a massive case of seconditis. It was so frustrating, and I can't remember if I went on tilt, but I probably did. 

My buddy (and some of yours on the twitter) @ryanwillis1 is on one of those tears and I've watched it in real time over the last few cards. Saturday alone he had 8 seconds and they included a 64-1 (by a nose), a 26-1 (by 3/4's) and a 33-1 (by a half).  That was on two racecards. 

If just those three horses got marginally better trips he's definitely up five figures. Instead he's tossing the remote out the window. This game can completely blow your mind can't it? 

Say hello to this week's sponsor - The Optix EQ's Derby Package! Kidding, no one is advertising on this silly blog. I just expect their Derby package will be worth the money. They do the work. 

Here's a link to the NAHU pod where they look at tonight's races at Yonkers. If I keep promoting this pod Ray Cotolo has promised me an autographed Rosecroft racing program. 

We may wonder why horse racing has not uncovered proper pricing mechanisms, or lacks big innovation, but keeps plugging along. A new paper by smart people might explain some of it. Researchers found that large firms who are politically connected fall behind on productivity and innovation, but have higher rates of survival. When we see ribbon cutting or lobbying for alternate gaming (so racing can survive in the face of new competition), but the customer a bit of an afterthought, I suppose it does fit.

Quite the twitter dust up this week with Serling and Marcus about morning lines, and criticism and such. Then Saratoga Angie popped in with a can of whoop ass by noting most everyone criticizes them from time to time. Remind me to stay on Angie's good side. 

Morning line making is hard. A whack of harness tracks switched to computer morning line making (through trackmaster) the last couple of years. Some of the lines are super goofy, but we can only yell at computers, and until they become AI driven and release missles to kill us all I don't think they care. I have no dog in this fight, and I have not had enough time to follow Keeneland closely this meet. But Nick is sharp and line-making at Keeneland is brutally difficult. 

The Yonkers seeded Thursday pick 5 continues to be what I think is the best bet in the racing world. Only about $30,000 was bet last week, if there's team play I haven't seen it, and it paid 6X parlay. If smaller capitalized players want a seat at the pick n table, here it is. 

Hawthorne handle has been good this meet. Whether the juice change made a real difference or not, who knows for sure, but it's trending right. I like Jim, and Illinois tracks have been at a big disadvantage for so long, it's nice to see some positives. $2M in handle is nothing to shake a stick at. 

Eric has compiled the Woodbine ADW takeout rates for 2023. For those who don't know, on various wagers at US tracks the Canadian customer pays more. Nice customer friendly policy, eh? 

You can see from the chart what tracks and pools where the rates are jacked up, so if this concerns you, they can be avoided. An example might be the popular Del Mar signal, where place, show juice is increased from 15.43% to 19%, and the trifecta pools go from 23.68% to a whopping 29%. There are sadly many other examples. 

Joe Kristufek was on the Beemer pod this week. I think Joe is pretty bright and worth listening to.  

I chuckled when I saw some of the reaction to the SpaceX rocket blowing up this week because anything involving Musk can have the camps arguing for hours. One simple google search revealed that the probability of this rocket blowing to smithereens before orbit was more than 50%. It was a coin flip, the little rocket lost, and that's all we kinda needed to know. 

Probabilities can be our friend, because beyond being handy for odds lines, converting into American odds etc, they tell us what's expected devoid of noise. Did a jockey win 3 races today, but rode in ten and was 2-1 every race? Then he or she performed about as expected. 

When not standardized, though, the downside of them is they can tell us absolutely nothing. 

I was watching the NHL playoffs this week and ESPN noted that when the Rangers score first their record is 40-6 (or whatever). This is not helpful, because when all teams score first they lead 1-0 and it's an advantage. We'd need to know the Rangers' number compared to league average (or better yet, a team like them over a large sample) to learn something. Maybe their coaching system plays better with a lead than an average team? We'll never know because they use lazy numbers.  

Those using databases or Formulator generally pay attention to what helps these conundrums - impact values. Quirin's great book back in the 1970's introduced this concept to horseplayers, where we learned Ainslie's "Big Win" had a positive IV, while some others did not. Gosh, that was such a good book that was ahead of its time, in my opinion. 

Just for fun, here's some Chad Brown impact values below (by various metrics this program offers). It's a limited sample, but kind of interesting in this snapshot that post time chalk has a high IV and low ROI; the same goes for last race brisnet figure. This ain't news to you, and those generally hold because it's tough to make moola with obvious positives, especially with well known trainers - 

John Rallis is a downtown Toronto kid we know from twitter who loves racing and handicapping and he was hired by Woodbine last week. I find it fun when young people like John get hired into the game they want to work in. Good luck John!

Bob Marks has done it all in racing - track handicapper, breeder, and I'm sure he's swept the stalls at some point. He once told me, "when I bet a horse I own him for the race". In the Trot magazine survey, drivers were asked who they drive for. 5% said the bettors.  

Another nugget I found interesting - 62% of drivers wager. Which is fine of course, but the contrast is wild when considering the NFL just suspended six players for wagering. 

- ITP-Joyce Buddy Movie Update

The script writers went all out for the last two scenes and they have approved the first for release here (exclusively) at the Super Spectacular Blog. Because it's so amazing I made the title above bigger. 

Mike & ITP played by paid actors

This update is a little longer than usual, but when I reached the plot twist at the end it really got me fired up. 

We last left our two heroes at Beem's house eating a hearty 14 course breakfast with fresh fruit Beem had flown in from Madagascar when suddenly Mike Joyce's phone pinged. 

"It's Frank Stronach. Says it's urgent. Beemer, thanks to you and Alexa for the great hospitality, but we have to scram," Mike told the gracious world class announcer.

Beem sent the buddies exacta out with a bowl of fresh oranges.  "Oranges, high five ITP!" said Joyce. "I don't high five," replied ITP. 

Arriving at Gulfstream just before post, their beeline to Frank's office was interrupted. 

"Hey Schrupp, what's doing", Joyce said to his TVG colleague. 

"Just trolling the tarmac for pick five tips. I spoke to Pletcher and he told me his firster in three cleaned up the feed tub, has never had a bad day, is working a hole in the wind and they have grade one hopes. When I told him it was off the record he said the horse was slower than dial up. I might spread. Who's your friend."

"McBaffert" replied Joyce. 

"Hey McBaffert" said Todd. 

Hearing activity and seeing potential voters, Chuck Simon walked over with pounceful purpose. 

"Hey fellas, I'm working on my campaign for President of HISA today. Pressing flesh, talking to the people. Can you guys get me on TVG? Did either of you bring a baby?"

"We're just here to see Mr. Stronach but I'm voting for you," said ITP. 

"Killer pod, and I don't like the Olive Garden either my man," added Joyce. 

Minutes later they were in Frank Stronach's office. 

"Close the door," Frank commanded. "Anyone for a Frank's Energy Drink?"

ITP and Mike politely declined. 

Frank Stronach
"I've called you here because I am in a real tough spot," said the Austrian-Canadian now Austrian-American. 

"I read about you two on that Uncle Bill's Twitter Spaces. The transcript was heavily redacted due to language, but I was impressed. I think you could help me with my problem."

"Thanks Frank, anything we can do, we're here for you," said Joyce. 

"I'm worried Belinda is messing up my company. The great company I built. I follow Pat Cummings on twitter and he has been talking about this Elite Turf Club place, so I investigated and I'm not sure this is on the up and up. The takeout rates seem so low, there are big odds drops, there may be Australians involved. I'm concerned." said Frank. 

"Last week I was informed the teams have weekly meetings in a basement in a warehouse about 20 miles out of town," the great man continued, "I needed a friendly face to make contact and report back on what was going on, so I asked Ashley Mailloux - you two know Ashley, one of our TV handicappers - to attend."

Joyce nodded, ITP's eyes rose from the Delta Downs past performances where they were having a $938 pick 3 carryover. 

"Well, Ashley has not been seen or heard from in over a week. She won't answer calls or texts; no one knows where she is. That Pompano Park fellow who got his ass kicked by Pete Aiello in that charity harness race has a phone full of millenial and Gen Z contacts and knows everyone. He says no word."

"Gabe Prewitt. He's plugged in, he even got us the white van we're driving. If he can't find her, she could be in trouble. What can we do?" asked a concerned Joyce. 

"They have another meeting tonight at the same warehouse. I've arranged for you two to go."

The Teams' Lair
"You will walk down the second set of stairs on the west end of the property and will see a large door. Knock three times and you will be asked for a pass phrase - tonight's is "low takeout for me, not for thee". You'll then be in. You'll simply be known as "Elite 31"," Frank informed the dream team.  

"From there I want you and McBaffert to establish your covers, then find Ashley and bring her home safe to Gulfstream. Second, I want you to get the information I need to save my company from Belinda's wild scheme," directed Frank as he chugged down another energy drink. 

"We won't let you down," said Mike, as Frank pulled ITP aside and whispered something in his ear. 

Mike and ITP left for the elevators. 

"This is amazing!", Mike said. "I feel so alive, this is way better than talking to Kurt Hoover all day." 

ITP was silent and looked white as a sheet. 

"What's wrong? I thought you'd be stoked. Frank Stronach wants us to be his Batman and Robin, his Simon and Simon, his Remington and Steele. Maybe he'll reward us with solid gold Pegasus statue replicas. For some reason you look worse than when I use an all in a pick 3," asked Mike. 

"It's Ashley..... Ashley Mailloux," a visibly shaken ITP stammered. 

"Yes, the in house handicapper Ashley, what about her?" asked Joyce. 

"She...... she's my sister."

Next week we'll have the Big Final scenes. Will they find Ashley? Will Mike and ITP remove Magna from the cluches of Belinda and return it back to Frank? Will they unlock the hidden Elite Turf Club secrets?

Happier Times: ITP teaching Ashley to pitch bad chalk at a family picnic

I don't know what all 19 of you reading this think, but damn, next week can't come soon enough. 

Thank you for reading and passing along the Super Spectacular Blog. You should know that the tens of thousands of advertising dollars I've earned here the last month just went into the pools at about $0.21 ROI, so you're welcome. 

Have a great week, be nice on the twitter, and most of all, go cash some tickets (preferably the size of Johnny's from Kentucky). 


Craig M said...

You're there best buddy, keep it up...if not quite this long every week. 😉

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